7 Tips for Helping Siblings of Kids with Diabetes CopeElizabeth Nelson
Odds are, since you found out you have a child with diabetes, you’ve spent far more time on that child than on your other children. And that’s okay. We know having a child with diabetes means a lot of extra work: doctor’s appointments, at-home research, learning to manage your child’s condition, training your child to manage their own condition, calling teachers and other parents and everyone else your child spends time with to remind them about your child’s diabetes needs. The list goes on.
You love your non-diabetic children just as much as the one (or ones) with diabetes, but it’s hard to let them know just how much they mean to you. It’s hard to balance your time between the kiddos in order to make each one feel special. We get that. So we’ve compiled some tips on how to recognize when your children are struggling to cope with their sibling’s disease and how to keep them from feeling left out or neglected.
Answer any questions your children may have about diabetes, but try not to go too far into depth unless they ask for it. Better to take baby steps than overwhelm your child with information that’s hard to process. If you see your child exhibiting signs of curiosity but not asking questions, ask them if they have any questions or concerns about their brother or sister. If they are worried that they might get diabetes from a sibling, reassure them that diabetes can’t be “caught” and that if they are diagnosed down the road, it is not anyone’s fault. Remind them that the family has experience and resources to help them manage diabetes if they develop it.
Talk about Diabetes
It’s completely normal for kids to be curious about their sibling’s diabetes. Ask them how they feel about the whole situation. Ask whether they have any guilt, jealousy, or fears they want to share, and assure them that this is not their fault, that you love all your children equally, and that there’s nothing to be afraid of. But also make sure to tell them that you understand why they feel that way. Reassure them that their brother or sister is okay and will continue to be okay as long as they take care of their condition.
Spend time not talking about diabetes
It’s important to have open discussions with your children about diabetes, but it’s also important to be able to talk about other things. You probably spend a lot of time thinking about diabetes, because you want your child to have the best care possible, but remind your children that their sibling’s diabetes isn’t your whole life by taking time to talk about other things, leaving diabetes out of the discussion entirely.